Lucasfilm teams with social media startups to create giant charity run



How’s this for a mega geek fest?

Lucasfilm is teaming up with three social media startups to create the Course of the Force, a 120-mile relay run where a chain of joggers will carry a lightsaber like an Olympic torch to their final destination. The charity run will go from Santa Monica, Calif., to the annual San Diego Comic-Con International conference.

The whole affair will be broadcast on the web. Teaming up to stage the event are Nerdist Industries, Octagon, and Machinima. Participants can buy themselves a leg of the race with a $500 donation for a quarter-mile section of the run. Proceeds will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I suppose you could call this a transmedia property, as it spans both the physical and online worlds.

“This is going to be a huge to-do,” said Peter Levin, principal at Nerdist Industries, which has a variety of web properties that appeal to the geek. “We think of this as a creative way to stoke fan culture, both online and offline. We’re in talks to distribute this in a variety of entertainment channels.”

The race will go from July 7 to July 11, ending a day before Comic-Con starts. Each runner will carry a lightsaber and hand it off to the next runner. Sponsors will have prize giveaways along the way at Star Wars-themed parties. The run will be announced this evening on the Jimmy Fallon TV talk show.

Nerdist Industries’ founder Chris Hardwick and co-hosts will follow the action from the Course of the Force lead vehicle each day, broadcasting live to the Nerdist platform, including its YouTube channel. Machinima, the video entertainment network for gamers, will produce and simulcast exclusive Course of the Force content through its network.

Levin said he hopes to turn the run into an annual affair.